Earlier this month Anthony Mitchell from TechNewsWorld wrote a nice article about the usability of products and the communication of information concerning color blindness. Due to the fact that about 8% of men have a color vision deficiency this is nothing to be neglected.
The two parts of the article cover topics like good contrast colors, presenting with color blindness in your mind, color coding, and poor usability through bad color choices.
A few statements caught my attention which I would like to point out:
- Information should never be distinguished by color only. This is a very important point which is often forgotten about. Only three different colors with high contrasts are easily distinguishable for colorblind persons. Always try to make not only color the only attribute but also use patterns, thickness of lines or borders or simply label the different parts directly if possible.
- Colorblind people have trouble seeing light from red laser pointers. Laser pointers always give me a hard time. If they are used on presentations I have great difficulties to see the little dot. Often I concentrate so much on the red dot that I even loose track of the presentation itself.
- Rely on black fonts and white backgrounds. It’s so simply why don’t you stick to it? Of course this is not true in all cases but for a text which should be easily readable for everybody just stick to black and white.
- Colorblind people can find it impossible to distinguish red letters from black ones. This point is sometimes hard to believe by somebody with normal color vision. But red text doesn’t stick out at all if you are colorblind. If you use red text to show some errors for example in an input form invert the colors, make it bold, print a border or just do anything to make it more visible.
- Distinguishing colors and naming colors are separate tasks. When it comes to naming colors I’m really bad. And with really bad I mean really really bad. I can distinguish colors but usually have big problems naming them. Color blindness makes you a color names guessing individual and not knowing one.
The article also includes a whole lot of links to better and worse examples: colors used in icons, webpages, links, and a lot more.
Maybe one or the other tip can help you to present your products more colorblind friendly or get your point across easily even with colorblind persons in your audience. You can find the whole article by following the two links below.
- Colorblindness – A Usability Guide for Commercial Applications, Part 1
- Colorblindness – A Usability Guide for Commercial Applications, Part 2
Think about color blindness whenever you are dealing with customers.